What is the grey wolf ?

Wolf species -

What is the grey wolf ?

The grey wolf (Canis lupus) is a mammal of the canid family in the genus Canis. The grey wolf is an important predator for our ecosystem. A fearful animal, preferring to avoid contact with humans, the wolf has become a ferocious beast devoid of all pity. The grey wolf is a far cry from the bloodthirsty animal we see in children's tales and other legends invented by man and his overflowing imagination.

In our article, we will see the origins of this wild dog, you'll see that the wolf is not so evil after all!

grey wolf in snow(image from theverge.com)

1. The origin of the grey wolf

The wolf is believed to have appeared in North America a million years ago. This mammal would have reached Siberia by Alaska, then the north of Eurasia.

Recent research tends to show that the wolf is the unique ancestor of all domestic dog breeds. It belongs to the canidae family, a group of 38 species of mammals such as dogs, jackals and foxes.

The grey wolf (Canis lupus) is a mammal of the canid family in the genus Canis. The grey wolf is an important predator for our ecosystem. A fearful animal, preferring to avoid contact with humans, the wolf has become a ferocious beast devoid of all pity. The grey wolf is a far cry from the bloodthirsty animal we see in children's tales and other legends invented by man and his overflowing imagination. 

In our article, we will see the origins of this wild dog, you'll see that the wolf is not so evil after all!

grey wolf in north america

1. The origin of the grey wolf

The wolf species is believed to have appeared in North America a million years ago. This mammal would have reached Siberia by Alaska, then the north of Eurasia.

Recent research tends to show that the wolf is the unique ancestor of all domestic dog breeds. It belongs to the canidae family, a group of 38 species of mammals such as dogs, jackals and foxes.

In 1758, the wolf was recognised as a species, and the Swedish naturalist Carl Linnaeus named it Canis lupus.

grey wolf habitat

2. Grey wolf description

The wolf is the largest original carnivore living in Eurasia and North America. Like all canids, it is well adapted to running and chasing its prey.

Its best developed senses are;

  • The sense of smell 
  • Hearing
  • On the other hand, his eyesight is weaker.  

The size of grey wolves varies considerably depending on the geographical location of the species. Southern populations are generally smaller than northwestern wolves populations. A male grey wolf size can measure between 1 and 1.30 m and a female between 87 cm and 1.10 m.

The lengths shown are taken from the tip of the nose to the tip of the tail. Tail size generally varies between 35 and 52 cm in length. The wolf weighs on average between 30 and 50 kg. 

Grey wolves can live up to 13 years in the wild, although the average lifespan varies between 5 and 6 years. Adults rarely die of old age. Most of the time, injuries received during hunting, fighting other wolves or poaching are many factors that shorten their lives prematurely. In captivity, they can live up to 15 years.  

grey wolf in alska

3. The grey wolf habitat

Where do the grey wolf lives ? Originally, the majority of wolves lived in the northern hemisphere, from the Arctic to central Mexico, North Africa and South Asia. However, due to intensive destruction of their natural habitats, environmental change and human population growth, the grey wolf territory are now confined to a few areas of the

  • United States 🇺🇸
  • Alaska ❄️
  • Canada 🇨🇦
  • Mexico 🇲🇽
  • Eurasia 🌏
  • Europe 🇪🇺
  • And a small part of the African continent 

grey wolf location in the world

4. What does grey wolves eat ?

The wolf is a carnivorous mammal 🥩 . Its diet consists mainly of sheep, hare, poultry, foxes, donkeys, reptiles, occasionally fruit. Some subspecies such as the Arctic wolf hunt muskox and moose. 

Wolves in the far north prefer to eat small rodents such as lemmings rather than the fleshier reindeer. Wolves stalk rodents because they are fatter than reindeer. This fat stored by the wolves bodies protects them from the cold. 

In autumn, some American wolves modify their diet by consuming large quantities of salmon, which are then swimming up rivers. Salmon fishing is much less dangerous than deer hunting. In addition, salmon, as winter approaches, offers a better nutritional quality in terms of fat and energy.  

grey wolf hunting

5. How do grey wolves reproduce ?

The wolf living in the wild reaches sexual maturity at the age of 22 months. In captivity, there have been cases of wolves breeding at the age of only 10 months. The breeding season takes place, depending on the region, from January to March. After a gestation period of 61 to 63 days, the female gives birth between March and June to a litter of one to seven youngs. They are covered with a light coat of hair and weigh no more than 300 to 500 grams.

The babies stay in the den until they reach the age of 8 to 10 weeks. Females stay with their young for the first 3 weeks of life. Thereafter, the young are cared for by all members of the pack

grey wolf reproduction

6. Grey wolf lifestyle

The life of the wolves is very well organised. They are not solitary animals. Group life is essential for a wolf's survival. They live in a pack of 3 to 15 individuals. Most of the time, the wolf pack is made up of family members. 

Each individual occupies a specific place in a hierarchy that must be respected. Life within the pack is tough and the competition severe. Fighting to win and keep one's place, fighting for food, fighting for females.

They adopt what is called the law of the pack. The strongest kills the weakest, gets the favours of a female and can hope for descendants. Around him, the pack is organised, each member of which he will have subdued. This reign will continue until another wolf challenges and defeats him.

Being a wolf means knowing where you rank in the pack, to which other wolves you owe respect and which ones owe it to you. Without this rule of submission of the weakest to the dominance of the strongest, there is no pack and therefore no wolves.

According to various estimates, the territory of a wolf pack covers an area of 280 to 720 km². It is delimited by markers which are odorous marks that the couple leaves, thanks to a gland located under the tail. Sometimes a pack accepts that foreign wolves pass on its lands. But, in general, these wolves prefer to avoid any confrontation by staying out of the other wolf's territory.

If you love the grey wolf lifestyle, discover our collection of wolf rings and wolf necklaces for a wild and unique style.  

grey wolf pack

7. Are grey wolves an endangered species ?

No, it is not threatened with extinction in the world because of its wide range.

8. Grey wolf facts

  • A grey wolf is capable of eating more than four kilograms of meat in a single meal and then go for more than a week without eating.
  • Lone wolves are usually animals that have been chased out of their pack or have left it voluntarily in search of territory.
  • Wolves avoid contact with man, whom they have undoubtedly learned to distrust. Most attacks are carried out by animals suffering from rabies.
  • In the Middle Ages, wolves were equated with witchcraft: those captured alive were judged and condemned.
  • The Dire wolf was the largest wolf in the world.